Buddhism gone berserk - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Buddhism gone berserk

Political, economic and social suicide

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(April 30, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Dambulla Mosque fire-bomb attack on April 22 is a political, economic and social suicide attempt which will have very serious repercussions just as the country is urged by the international community to mend fences and progress towards reconciliation. When all hell was breaking loose the Muslim, Malay and Burgher communities steered clear of the ethnic conflict except to act as mediators be it in the media, judiciary, police or commissions of inquiry and kept the fragile and fractured isle together barring the odd skirmishes resulting from trade conflicts and suspicions - perceived or otherwise - of acting as moles for both the government and Tamil militants during the war.

The Muslim community have always had considerable influence over the island's economic status since the 1500s when they arrived here from the Middle East to trade in spices and several hundred years later from India bringing in textiles and other exotic goods.
These communities remained calm and carried on with their duties while the warring Tamils and Sinhalese were gouging each others' eyes out in the pretext of nationalism and their respective ethnic identities. It now seems the Muslim community will not be silent forever in the wake of unprovoked attack on their Holy Mosque and are garnering support from fellow Muslims all over the world.The 35 year old ethnic strife has left some metastases in the body parts of the island where pockets of elements touting false national and religious pride are threatening to tear up this island emerging from the wounds of war.

The sacrilege instigated and carried out by the Sinhalese mobs including Buddhist monks on a place of worship should not be taken lightly and fobbed off just another mob attack. This was a calculated crime resulting from religious intolerance and instigated by Sinhala extremist politicians as can be gleaned from media reports. The Muslim community have always had considerable influence over the island's economic status since the 1500s when they arrived here from the Middle East to trade in spices and several hundred years later from India bringing in textiles and other exotic goods. Many chose to set up home here and have remained peaceful and showed a lot of bonhomie in their adopted motherland. The community also produced some excellent scholars and professionals.

Some key politicians are threatening to withdraw support for the government as a result of this unfortunate incident. If the LTTE almost succeeded in seceding a portion of the island for the ethnic Tamils who were deprived of their inalienable rights then it is now the turn of the Muslim population to fight to carry on their religious convictions and their rights as dutiful citizens to practice their faith without hindrance. Islam is a tolerant religion no matter how adversely the West misinterprets. The West did not intervene in the Middle East until it found an opportune time when oil was discovered in the 1930s. The oil-rich lands of the Bedouins became several kingdoms and they began to supply the developed nations with the much needed oil which in turn dictates the strength of their economic indicators. The West's approach to the Middle-East crisis since the '70's has never been totally altruistic. It pitted governments against opposition parties, nations against nations.

Deeds or no deeds it is no excuse to desecrate a place of worship.


The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 22 years. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)





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